photo: NTR

Officially, resistance fighter Tula is still registered as a criminal in the Netherlands, but on Tuesday, October 3, the Dutch government will grant him rehabilitation. Singer Izaline Calister and program maker Wensley Francisco are looking forward to that moment. “This is just a start to really changing things.”

After the largest uprising that broke out on August 17, 1975, resistance leader Tula and his fellow fighters were gruesomely killed by the colonial power on October 3. Criminals? The enslaved people wanted freedom and equality for everyone.

‘This is important for three reasons’
The Dutch government will officially restore Tula’s honor on October 3. There are three things at play here, says Wensley Francisco in the TV program De Sociëteit. “When Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized for slavery, a commitment was made: Tula must be recognized as a hero by the Netherlands. That’s going to happen now.”

“The second thing is that this opens the door for other freedom fighters, who have been tried as criminals, to be recognized. The third: we are taking a step towards a more inclusive Kingdom. Because now it is the case that when we think about the Kingdom, we only think about the Netherlands. Of course, it also includes six islands.”

‘More education needed’
In Curaçao he is now seen as a folk hero, but that has not been the case for a long time. “Generations have passed before we were to discover a hero ,” says Francisco (1980). He and Izaline Calister argue for more education about Dutch slavery, including about resistance heroes such as Tula.

“We don’t get this at school,” says Izaline Calister. The fact that she knew who Tula was in her youth is because her father was a scout in the Boy Scouts. “I have been very lucky with this. He told heroic stories. Also about Tula: someone who was strategic and did not resign himself to fate. It failed, but it doesn’t make him any less of a hero.”

Dutch outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte will have a video call on Monday, October 2, with Gilbert Bacilio and Frank Quirindongo, two Curaçaoans who have been working hard for the rehabilitation of Tula for years. There will be a special meeting on Tuesday, October 3, in Curaçao, attended by outgoing State Secretary Van Huffelen (Kingdom Relations).